Oh, the cruelty of early summer. Yeah, cherries abound and you can find those amazing Blenheim apricots at the farmer's markets. But real summer fun has yet to begin with peaches (peach crisp, anybody?) and amazing tomatoes (nothing like Ad Hoc's gazpacho in the blender on a hot day) and super sweet watermelon (can't wait to make again this watermelon and feta salad.)
But one of the beauties of spring is fennel which, though available year round, is at it's best right now. And this salad (adapted from Heidi Swanson's fantastic book, Super Natural Every Day , though simple in ingredients, is very very big on flavor and presentation both. With it's bright citrusy flavor, crunchy veggie base and salty feta thing going on, it is a perfect gateway to summer kind of salad. And it is pretty. Never underestimate the power of pretty in food.
1 medium-large zucchini, sliced into paper thin coins
2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed and shaved paper-thin
2/3 cup loosely chopped fresh Italian Parsley (yeah, I totally forgot this step, still good.)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Fresh Ground Pepper
4 or 5 generous handfuls arugula
Honey, if needed
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Combine the zucchini, fennel and Italian parsley in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice, olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside and marinate for 20 minutes, or up to an hour.
When you are ready to serve the salad, put the arugula in a large bowl. Scoop all of the zucchini and fennel onto the arugula, and pour most of the lemon juice dressing on top of that. Toss gently but thoroughly. Taste and adjust with more of the dressing, olive oil, lemon juice, or salt if needed. If the lemons were particularly tart, you may need to counter the pucker-factor by adding a tiny drizzle of honey into the salad at this point. Let your taste buds guide you. Serve topped with pine nuts and feta.
Serves 4 to 6.